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Indonesian police on mission to uncover truth in Novel Baswedan case

Indonesian police on mission to uncover truth in Novel Baswedan case

A senior investigator of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), Novel Baswedan, in the KPK building, Jakarta, Wednesday (October 7, 2019). (ANTARA PHOTOS / Rivan Early Linga/wsj)

The acid attack case involving Novel Baswedan, a senior investigator of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), which has been unresolved since 2017, has put a blot on the otherwise excellent reputation of the Indonesian police the world over. Amnesty International has even threatened to bring the Novel Baswedan assault case to the attention of the US Congress.

Incumbent President, Joko Widodo (Jokowi), has now challenged the National Police to conclude the case prior to his swearing-in as Indonesia's president for the 2019-2024 term on October 20, 2019.

Jokowi, who defeated his contender, Prabowo Subianto, in this year's presidential election ordered National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian to solve it within three months.

He gave orders to General Karnavian on July 19 or two days after a joint team was set up by the National Police early this year to help uncover the Novel Baswedan assault case.

This joint team, whose members comprise those from the police, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), and the academic community, as well as community figures, recommended that General Tito Karnavian forms a technical team and focuses on three people, who might be linked to the acid attack.

In response to this recommendation, General Karnavian set up the technical team and signed a letter ordering members of the police's technical team to undertake a thorough investigation into the Novel Baswedan acid attack case starting from August 1.

According to the National Police Spokesman, Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo, the team is led by Chief of the National Police's Criminal Investigation Department, Senior Commissioner Idham Azis, and includes 10 other members.

All the members of the technical team are the best police investigators in the force and officially start work on August 1 by first reviewing the outcome of the investigation report released recently by the joint team.

Thereafter, they will conduct a thorough analysis of the crime scene by applying scientific methods to uncover the assault on Baswedan, a senior investigator of Indonesia's anti-graft body in 2017.

Prasetyo revealed that the members of the technical team would also analyze all the clues, including footage from the CCTV cameras at the crime scene and a sketch of the suspects who were involved in the crime.

The technical team's members have been given six months to conclude the case and uncover the truth, according to the letter that General Tito Karnavian signed. However, President Jokowi had earlier requested the team to complete the work in three months.

In response to the president's order, the technical team's members have said they would work harder. "I believe they will be able to solve the assault case," Prasetyo said.

The acid attack on Novel Baswedan occurred on April 11, 2017, when he was heading home after performing Fajr, or the Dawn prayer, at a mosque near his house. It damaged his eyes, necessitating medical treatment in Jakarta and Singapore.

The acid attack was reportedly launched by two motorcyclists who managed to escape and are still at large. The retired police officer had joined the anti-graft agency in 2007 and, since then, had been frequently terrorized and attacked.

In 2012, for instance, Baswedan's motorcycle was badly damaged after being attacked by supporters of convicted Amran Batalipu, a former district head of Buol, in Central Sulawesi Province.

The case of the acid attack on Baswedan sparked deep concerns among community members.

In January this year, for instance, several representatives of the alumni of Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology's (ITS) Civil Engineering Department came to the KPK office in Jakarta to voice their support to the KPK's mission.

The ITS alumni called on the police to solve the Baswedan case.

In connection with this case, Presidential Chief of Staff, Moeldoko, defended the police saying that they needed more time to solve the case because it was not an easy task as the crime was committed in the dark.

As revealed in his statement on July 19, Moeldoko argued that the CCTV cameras installed at the scene of the crime could not provide clear evidence of the perpetrators of the attack.

Apart from this technical hurdle, the National Police have internationally been recognized for their excellent reputation in uncovering terrorism cases.

Considering this, Vice President, Jusuf Kalla, recently hinted that the police would uncover the truth in the Baswedan case.

Kalla's belief in the police's capability in solving the case might be able to finally provide long-awaited justice for Novel Baswedan, his family, and the people at large.

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